Alberta, Canada!

We spent a week traveling within Alberta, Canada (just north of us here) and saw some of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen. The trip was lovely, other than some sickness that I so generously (frustratingly) shared during it. It consisted of three main parts: Jasper, Banff, and Canmore.

We flew into Calgary, where we stayed for a night. The stampede was going on while we were there, so we walked to the grounds and enjoyed seeing lots of cowboys and girls on the streets.

We took our time making the 4-hour drive up to Jasper. This meant making a few stops along the way. It’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world and I think it would have been, but there was a lot of haze from the nearby forest fires. Thankfully we got to enjoy the views more on our drive back through to Banff and Canmore.

We had a very relaxing stay in Jasper. We loved our accommodations here and enjoyed walking the grounds, going around the lake, and the guys all played on the water a bit, too. We also took an amazing boat tour to Spirit Islands and I can say that this was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. It was stunning.

On our way back down to Banff, we stopped at another gorgeous lake. This was Mike’s 40th birthday so he lovingly accommodated my desire to have him in a special birthday year shirt all day. Banff was lovely, but much busier than Jasper (we expected this). We enjoyed staying right downtown and walking everywhere. We went to see Lake Louise (bucket list item for me!) and also enjoyed a nice hike and a couple quicker walks.

The last place we stayed was Canmore. This city was gorgeous – seeing mountains over the buildings was unreal. We had our best meal of the trip, thanks to a recommendation from our friends from church. We did a hike with my dad up to the most beautiful turquoise lake there.

I’ll do another post (or two) with pictures from my Dad and also from Ethan, but I won’t say more about the trip. Suffice it to say, this was a great trip!

Every day life in the month of July

We took a big family trip in the middle of July, but this post will be about the every day happenings during that month. Next post will be for the big trip. =)

A couple of Ethan’s friends requested to go birding with him. He was happy to oblige! While birding with one friend, he came close to trampling over this guy. Eek.

On the 4th of July we headed out on our favorite hike in the front range: Chief Mountain. We’ve done this one before and loved it again. We also had our traditional strawberries, blueberries and homemade whipped cream. And we spent some time playing ping pong.

You might have noticed in one the above picture that E got his haircut. He was definitely bribed by his Dad with some ice cream, but I’m pretty sure he’s very glad he chopped it off.

The boys were asked to help with a LARPing camp that their Krav Maga coach was putting on. Friends from church heard about it and gave them some weapons. Camp started this morning and they were definitely busy helping!

I had the opportunity to attend the funeral of my former boss from back in my Heritage House days. She was an incredible woman and I was thankful to celebrate her life with some friends.

Micah got Invisalign! He is already doing an excellent job taking care of it. He will have brackets for about three months and then will get the top teeth in Invisalign, too.

Other happenings include a lot of music-making and various food creations by Micah.

Celebrating Ethan

This kid. He’s 5’7″ and 14 years old. He’ll be in high school next year (we call that Challenge I in our homeschool lingo). He loves playing the piano, the ukulele, the drums and the guitar (he’s currently borrowing one, but will soon have his very own). He loves disc golf and chess. He enjoys Krav Maga with his friends and brother. He’s getting into bouldering at the gym. And he LOVES photographing birds.

Here are the final pictures of E as a 13 year old. We both attempted to appear taller than each other (he’s got me by 1/4 inch right now) and then we just smiled nicely.

We celebrated with his favorite foods (pancakes, ham and cheese buns, turkey burgers, ice cream cake) and activities. I took E and Micah birding (and we got lots of mosquito bites – as you can see it’s happening while I took the pictures). We played Wingspan – one of his favorite games. He was hoping for a ping pong tournament, but the weather didn’t cooperate this weekend.

He enjoyed all of your videos, phone calls, text messages, and video calls. Thanks for helping us celebrate this kind young man. =)

April Updates

This entry will be for all things not related to the end of the school year. (I’ll hopefully post about the school year soon.)

1.My goal for April was to play the ukulele for ten minutes every day. I didn’t even come close to reaching that goal, but E and I had a lot of fun together. He was a very good teacher and I really enjoyed learning. 2. Two Safe Family friends cheered as Micah went for a run. 3. Crazy temperature shifts in Colorado. I don’t know why it still always surprises me, as this is a common occurrence, but it does. 4. Cookie card appreciations for being a Sunday school teacher this year. What a fun idea! 5-7. We celebrated Passover again. 8. I made Easter egg nests for a church potluck. Ridiculous. But tasty. 9-10. Micah goes for runs regularly and I continue to try to get out for walks. 11. Cousin Matthew was AMAZING in his recent role in Anastasia. We loved watching him. I may have shed a few tears. This was his last play in high school. 12-13. Mike and Micah headed out for a mountain biking adventure at CCSP and E and I went birding. 14. It’s official. Ethan is actually slightly taller than me now. We have been measuring for the past couple of months since we’ve been so close. This picture doesn’t make him look taller than me because I am wearing a deceiving high ponytail, but we are standing in front of the place we officially measured ourselves. 15. Both boys have now been able to play in church. E was on the drum set this past Sunday (April 30) and Micah and I hung out at church while he practiced.

Spring Break, Part 1

Our crew headed down to Florida to visit family over our Spring Break. This worked out nicely as Mike needed to head to Uruguay for work and could fly from Miami after spending a day there with us and my folks. They met us in Miami, spent the night there, and then drove back with the boys and me while Mike continued onward to Uruguay. We made the most of our whirlwind stay in Miami and had a lot of fun.

We stayed at a hotel walking distance from the beach. We ate at a ceviche spot just up the street and later enjoyed pie in the outside courtyard there for pi day. Here Mike and Micah played some chess and Grandpa and E played a few games of corn hole. Prior to dessert and games, Mike and Micah swam in the pool on top of the building, while Grandpa and E went birding by the beach.

The following morning we woke in time for the sunrise at the beach. It was pretty cloudy, so it wasn’t as beautiful as we were anticipating, but it was still fun! We ate breakfast at the hotel before heading out to Bill Baggs State Park, a delicious Cuban restaurant, Little Havana, Domino park (where E played chess with a guy a little older than himself outside of the park since you have to be at least 55 to play inside), and then Wynwood. Next Mike headed to the airport and we drove to Naples for the rest of the week.

Micah turns 11!

We had a great time celebrating Micah again this year. He’s a super fun kid, with lots of heart and spunk. His wish for his birthday was to eat good food and have his friends over to play together. Thankfully it worked to host his buddies on his actual birthday!

Here are our annual Micah-and-Mom pics before he turned 11. We call it our last pic of Micah as a 10 year old. It was taken after a fun evening of family wrestling (our Advent Activity from the 2nd).

And, as always, we had our family sleepover that night for our Advent Activity.

Meanwhile…Micah and Mom time at home

I tried to make time with Micah special while Ethan was down in Texas with his dad. We both tend to really enjoy time at home, so it felt hard to make that feel special, but he told me many times that he was having a great time. He did say at one point, “this weekend is taking such a long time…in a really good way.” So, hopefully he meant that last part. =D We enjoyed his favorite meals, did a workout together, and went to the Farmer’s Market after church. And on Saturday we spent a good chunk of time down at the park for our Foundations/Essentials Kick-Off picnic in the park with a bunch of friends. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because selfies are not my thing and I try not to have my phone by me much when hanging one on one.

I’ll include these pictures from opening birthday presents one morning this week because they feature Micah and me. =)

A Very Special Weekend

Mikey had been mulling over this concept for years – how to move the boys towards manhood as they matured. He wanted to be incredibly intentional around raising our boys to embrace their manhood with courage and character. His vision was to have a night away in the mountains with Ethan and some of his important spiritual role models. He had been mentioning little things off and on over the past few months to Ethan about it, without giving any details. When the day finally arrived, he sent E an email and told him to be packed for a night away by 11 am. I was then to take him out for lunch to talk to him about the ways I admire him and how my role will change in his life over time, starting with this day. (Meanwhile, Mike was picking up my parents from the airport and arranging things so that my Dad could get to the mountains with Uncle Joel.) We had a great time together and I only barely cried while praying with him.

Next, Ethan and Mike drove up to the mountains where he moved from room to room discovering different men that had come up there to speak into his life. He was shocked! I won’t be able to do this weekend justice, nor do I think this is the place to elaborate. Suffice it to say, it will not be forgotten. He treasured this time and learned much.

It’s humbling to realize how many amazing people we have in our lives; each of whom play a different role. We are thankful to be raising these young men with the help of such a beautiful village, near and far (some are featured here and others aren’t, but we are thankful for each person who loves this young man fiercely). And I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have such an intentional partner. He makes this journey a lot less daunting and a whole lot more fun. So thankful.

This guy is something special. By the grace of God, he’s going to be a part of the change we all want to see in this world.

Ethan becomes a teenager

As we often (but not always, as you’ll see below) do, we snapped a mama-and-me picture of Ethan’s final night as a twelve-year-old. I thought it might be fun to show each year leading up to this one. These start in 2009 and lead up to the present year.

Much of Ethan’s birthday wishes involved outdoor things (birding) and good food. We had a mostly rainy day that day, so we ended up doing a lot of ping pong in the garage. Later in the afternoon Ethan and I biked over to the pond for some birding and basketball.

Ethan was incredibly grateful for all of the calls, cards, videos and gifts that were showered upon him. Our highlight was watching his grateful and overwhelmed face when he opened his gift from us – a new camera. Lots of tears were shed, by more than just me.

This guy is incredibly sweet and intelligent. He’s got a passion for birds and photography. He also seems to love learning new things (particularly about places in the world), playing outside, and doing Krav Maga. We’re really proud of the young man he already is and who he is becoming. It’s been a gift to have the opportunity to raise him.

Micah’s 10 Year Trip

A few years ago my parents came up with an idea to take each of their grandchildren on a special trip when they are 10 years old. Each grandchild will have the chance to come up with their dream trip. (Ethan chose Philadelphia). Micah chose to stay a lot closer to home by exploring castles in Colorado. He knew that they wouldn’t be like the medieval castles in Europe, but he was pretty excited to get to see them. He was a little more apprehensive about this trip and made a couple calls to check in with us over his time, but overall he had a wonderful time and he was SO thankful for the opportunity.

Hopefully I can do another post sometime with the pictures he took (which were many!), but this is what we got from Grandpa. They visited three castles together, including staying on the grounds at Glen Eyrie. His favorite castle was Bishop castle – a very unique spot!

Miramont Castle was probably the least exciting to Micah, although he enjoyed dressing up like a firefighter.

And lastly, here’s Glen Eyrie, where they did a guided tour of the castle, did a scavenger hunt, and saw wild turkeys (among other things):

When he returned home after his night away, we enjoyed hearing all about it and seeing all of his pictures. He got a big kick out of two tourists at Glen Eyrie who were taking lots of selfies. He laughed so much telling us about it and then wanted to take some of his own (thus the pictures that follow).

The following night E and I got to join the three of them on one final stop at a “castle” in North Denver. We arrived at sunset and enjoyed walking around the grounds outside.

We are SO thankful that the boys have opportunities like this one with people they love.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for taking Micah on this trip!